Friday, April 25, 2008

April 25, 2008

Howdy Folks-

Garrett's had a rough night tonight. I think he over did it a little the past few days. He's been feeling really good, and I just let him be a "normal boy", as much as possible. He ran and played, walked the zoo and the airplane museum. Both educational, open and few people. All the right stuff to let us attend. Big outings for any kid, to be sure. But these were really huge for Garrett. By tonight, he was played out. He complained about chest discomfort and his heart rate was a little high, so I decided to just have him settle down the rest of the evening. We played a few more obligatory Xbox baseball games, which he won of course, and called it a night while we watched a documentary story about a WWII B-17, the Memphis Belle. But by 1130pm, he was fussing and fighting in his sleep. He's had a history of this but it has been better since getting his new heart. I'm hoping and praying it is not a sign of something bad. That's always one of the hard parts. When can we separate 'normal' growing pains from something that is dangerous? We almost waited too long last time. It's times like these that make me truly understand and appreciate why they have us stay close to the hospital for several months.

His heart rate is great now and after waking a neighbor to get our heating pad back, he was sleeping quietly after about an hour of watching hunting videos with dad. That's sort of a tradition. Over the years when he's had a bad night, and there were many of them, he and I would watch old National Finals Rodeo videos or hunting videos to take his mind off of his pain. If I had a baseball game being played, that would have been in the lead for choice of the evening.

His clinic check up was good today. No big changes to speak of. Another change in medicine to keep trying to balance the cyclosporin levels until next time. That's why we celebrated with a trip to the air museum at Lowry. He really spun his head in that place. It was also very cool to show him planes and equipment that his grandpy had flown in and used, and his uncle, and another couple of friends, and to see a room dedicated to the Air Force Academy where his two cousins are going to school.

Y'know, I visited with a friend the other day and was asked what my plans were going to be for the future with work and play. I don't have that answer right now. Before this all happened, I was in the process of trying to start a very long series of administrative loop holes to get my place properly zoned to sell. I had been planning on another big summer trip with the Pikes Peak Range Riders, one that I always look forward to taking in, and planned on taking care of some external family issues, etc., etc. What I do know for sure, is that I have to put my son and his health, and the whole family's emotional health at the forefront of my decision making process. Safe to say there will be no Range Ride this year, unfortunately. The property issue....well, I just need to keep praying on it. Money's tight, but somehow God will provide. Work....well, work will just have to work out when it does. The Office has been good about giving me the freedom to be with my family during this time. For some reason, it seems more difficult this time around. Not hard from the standpoint of the wait, for we received a heart so soon. But more because there are four of us now who all understand to some degree what the implications can be, living in one room, in a home filled with other families who are dealing with their own tragedies. There are challenges, to be sure. But there are also many, many blessings. I told my friend that right now, I just want to see my little cowboy graduate from high school. It's hard to focus on much more than that.

Garrett cried the other day, wanting to go back to church again. For obvious reasons, we have not been attending as the services are typically very packed. We try to make sure we read scripture every day, pray several times a day as a family and try to walk the walk and talk of God all through the day. But those don't give us everything we need. I will find something soon so we all can get fed in His house like we're supposed to.

I realize how how weak and fruitless any words of mine can be at times, when I try to convey my sincere appreciation to God for the many blessings he has given me. I know of no other father who has been able to spend this much time with his family over the years. Granted, it has come at a price, but I am lucky just the same. I'm reminded of a statement made by Thomas Paine many, many years ago. He was speaking of America's freedoms, but it can also apply to our situation and many people like us. He said "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it". Just one more day, every day, IS worth all the fatigue it takes to get there.

Have a blessed weekend.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Welcome To Garrett's Blog Site

It has been requested of me several times to start a blog about Garrett and his journey. After some recent prompting by my sister-in-law, I have decided to give it a whirl.

The purpose in doing this is to share his story and allow updates to be more readily accessed by those who wish to follow our progress. I hope you will find the following pages and contents to be warm, informative and helpful. We have added some photos for you to look at depicting Garrett's life over the past few years.

These are but a snapshot of the life of one little boy, who by his champion warrior spirit, has forever changed many lives and brought glory to God.

In Him,


April 21, 2008

Hi Everyone!

Garrett is getting stronger and finally beat 'em at the clinic. He gained a pound!! His blood work is all over the map right now, but it's to be expected because they are changing and weaning him off of many of the medications he had to be on initially. There are no cause for concerns, and he actually looks better than he has yet!

We spent some time with my brother and his wife on Saturday. It was like being released, almost. The sunshine and fellowship did more for our spirits than we can express. Great Stuff!

A down side to the week was learning that very special friends of ours lost a friend in a tragic work accident. Our hearts and prayers are with them, and I ask you to think of them when you pray, as well. Another friend just learned of a co-worker diagnosed with lung cancer. She is also in need of God's intervention.

We don't have to look around much to find someone with a tougher life than ours. We struggle at times with yearning for home and "normal", but praise God every day that we continue to win this fight. There are many around us who are losing.

Our little friend "KJ" has been through another round of chemo last week. Garrett and Jessi were concerned to tears because it makes her so very sick. The kids have really been great for each other. The interaction with other kids with issues has been quite a learning experience.

Physically, Garrett is doing really well. Emotionally, he is still struggling at times. It's all understandable, though. He just wants to be, as he puts it, "a normal boy" again. I still haven't found the answers to all of his questions. I pray every day for grace and strength to help Garrett, Jessi and Kathy work through their fears.

As I was putting this 'blog' site together, I prayed fervently that God will continue to help me find the words to bring Garrett's story to you in a positive light. It is positive, even with the bumps and boggs, because we are living out God's perfect plan....or at least trying to. I hope He looks down favorably as we try to humble ourselves to His gifts and yours, to live with a sense of purpose and discipline and drive on toward the ultimate prize.

Until next time, my prayer for you all is that you can feel how your intentions comfort us when we need it most.

God Bless you all,


April 15, 2008

April 15, 2008

Hi everyone,

What a week we’ve had! Garrett got a very special treat on Saturday that he won’t ever forget. His transplant team decided to let us bring him home for just a few hours so he could attend the opening day ceremonies for the High Plains Little League. If you recall, Garrett had just completed tryouts only days before we found out he was so sick and needed a new heart. They also decided to put off his biopsy for several weeks to let him get mentally ready for it. He needed that.

To honor Garrett, the little league invited him to throw out the 1st ball to start the season. All of the teams were there, about 20 different baseball teams. They all lined the edge of the outfield while the league president gave a very nice introduction about Garrett and his journey. Then Garrett was brought out and he threw out the 1st ball of the year. His team then rallied around him at the mound and cheered for him. It was a very emotional and wonderful ceremony. I took some pictures, but honestly had trouble seeing through the lens. They also surprised all of us by displaying Garrett’s initials on every jersey this year, and all the players and coaches signed a bat for Garrett. He was told by the league president to pull out the bat when he was lonely and missing home, so he could see how many folks were pulling for him.

The day was really cold. We almost didn't try it, but knew we could keep him warm and sequestered in the car most of the time, and he really needed a morale boost. Garrett was only able to stay out for a very short while and really couldn’t interact with the other kids much, but he was very humbled by the whole event. After that, we took him home for a short visit to see his animals. Within a few minutes, he went back to his bedroom and cried. It hit him pretty hard, because he knew he had to go back up near the hospital and couldn’t stay home. I think it gave him a little glimpse though, that we will be home for good at some point.

We were brought back to reality on Monday when we learned another 2x transplant boy had pneumonia. We’re glad we have been so lucky and we pray for the other little one, but it reminds us loudly why we have to take it slow and be ultra-cautious about germs and infections. I tried to talk them (the hospital staff) into letting us go home in May. It was worth a try, but it’s a no-go. His weight is still a little off, and some of his blood work needs tweaking, but he feels good most of the time. He’s healing well with only a little scab left on his big scar.

There have been so many people doing wonderful things to help us. Sometimes it hard to believe we’ve come this far so soon. We will never be able to thank everyone for all they do. Events like the one described above do so much for Garrett’s morale. He needs his emotional strength to help his little body keep healing, and all of the prayers and kindness help more than I can ever explain. The emotional toll takes a lot from each of us, but your love and friendship give us renewed strength. We continue to pray for you all, just as your prayers are holding us up. God’s goodness cannot be fully described.

In Him,


"Evil Prospers When Good Folks Do Nothing"

April 9, 2008

April 9

I was recently asked what I do to stay faithful to God. It took me two pages to say what I could have said in a couple of short, fragmented sentences. My family. He entrusted them to me, and I believe His promises. They need me here on earth, and I need them to get to heaven. The kids are why we get out of bed everyday, isn’t it? We owe it to them to try and leave them some kind of a decent world to raise their kids. The great thing is that they have poor memories of the many times I fail them.

Garrett’s hospital visit went well. Still hoping for some weight gain, but it’ll come. We’re adjusting his medicines again because his cyclosporine is all out of whack, but the heart still runs great! They are good problems to have, really. His body was so used to running with a sick heart and now that he has a great heart we have to let his body get in tuned in just right.

We met a little girl here the other day. She is an absolutely beautiful child who has quickly captured my heart and has made all the difference in the world to Garrett and Jessi. They now have a friend they can play with. They can play with K.J., because she also has a suppressed immune system. K.J. has a very aggressive cancer. K.J. is 7 years old.

K.J.’s mom told me that she didn’t want to go back to school anymore because some of the kids made fun of her for losing her hair. Wait until she grows back a beautiful mane of golden hair and their still stuck with their baby hair. It reminded me of a few kids at Garrett’s school who made fun of him for having a “girl’s” heart, when they found out about Megan. Kids can be cruel, but payback can be fantastic and colossal. Wait until they try him out now…….with a 15 year old boy’s heart! They couldn’t keep up with him before.

Today, Jessi had to be sequestered in the room because she woke up with a little cough and a runny nose. The weather was not conducive to trying to take her home for a few days and she wasn’t feeling bad or running a fever. To be on the safe side though, we have to keep her away for 24 hours to make sure she doesn’t develop a fever and doesn’t have something contagious. I think it’s just dry sinuses, but we can’t take the chance, and it’s not fair to chance K.J. getting something.

Jessi had to sit in the room with daddy and wear a mask while the other kids got to go play and watch a movie. This whole ordeal has been tough on her, but she just doesn’t complain. She is remarkably amicable and understanding. But today, it hurt. I’m sure she felt punished. She didn’t make a sound as tears rolled down her face. I didn’t let her see mine.

Please pray for little K.J. She starts another round of chemo on Monday and it’s going to be a tough one.

God bless you,


April 6, 2008

April 6, 2008

Happy 5 weeks! Can you believe it? Five weeks ago yesterday Garrett got a new lease on life and he’s making the most of it, at least as much as he can. His discomfort from the surgery is minimal now, much to our relief. Even the nightmares are fewer. The kids were playing in the ‘fun room’ here at the Ronald McDonald house their laughs could be heard throughout the building. Great stuff.

Garrett had a big last few days. He got to meet Billy Thompson from the 1977 Bronco’s Super Bowl team, and “Miles” the mascot. Miles kinda took a shine to momma and about got a knot snapped on his butt. Horseface! Mr. Thompson, though, was very nice to the kids and talked football and baseball with Garrett for quite a while.

Today’s clinic visit at the hospital was pretty uneventful. We’re still wishing he’d start gaining more weight back, but at least he’s not losing a lot. A new medicine they have him on to help fight thrush is raising his cyclosporine levels, which works with a few others to fight possible rejection. So they have to move up some here and down some there. It’s really a giant balancing act to make sure the lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) will accept his heart while still helping to protect him from invading organisms that can cause harm. All the while it’s giving his body the best opportunity to heal and grow. There’s really not enough time or room to explain it all, and I’m not sure I really understand it anyway, but suffice to say it’s all necessary to carry on the mission.

Our days are starting to blend together now and the Ronald McDonald house is getting smaller all the time. We try to get some ‘normal’ activities in, but they are often interrupted with moments of yearning for home. That is usually manifested in somebody having a 13 year old spoiled girl fit. Mostly me. The kids are doing their best to adapt and mom and dad are doing our best to remind them that we can’t control circumstances, only our response to them. We honestly are trying to pray often, reflect and to hope our devotion to God will be pleasing to Him. Although we don’t understand why, we do know that we are exactly where He needs us to be right now.

May God bless and keep you all.


April 3, 2008

April 3, 2008

They say there’s no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole. That may be true, but I can tell you that when you get out of that hole and reach another objective under fire, it’s time to sing His praises even more.

We got great news today. First of all, I know several of you have been worried about Garrett’s upcoming biopsy. After his check up today, I pinned the transplant coordinator down and encouraged a no B.S. reading on what is happening. Garrett is in good shape. His weight is OK, although they want to see him gain more, he has not lost any more. His blood work is a little bit off again, but it’s a balancing act. His heart looks fantastic and going strong. He has good energy and even got scolded today for playing too hard J

The biopsy is necessary to take a look at everything. Because of his history of issues within the first year or so of his first transplant and the sudden deterioration prompting the need for the new heart, they want to stay on top of it. They are putting it out another month so we can have a certain doctor do the surgery. He’ll have to have another at six months and again at one year post transplant. They are not without risks and will be stressful, we are with them in agreement.

The great news is that if he continues to progress as he has, we’ll be home in June!! It’s a double edged sword, because it also means that he’ll be weaned off of most of the drugs he’s on right now that give him some protection, and that will leave his immune system even more at risk. But, his body will be stronger and since home is where it is, the chances of contacting a lot of outside people will be minimized. Just knowing we’re just two months or so from possibly being home is incredible news!!!! We're not cashing that check until it clears, but I have a good feeling about it. He's shown time and again that he has no quit in him anywhere!

I need to share one other thing I heard today from a good friend who is a helicopter pilot with the Pennsylvania State Police. His wife got a premonition today that Garrett is “a one hundred year old soul, and a warrior who will be around for many, many years”. I think God speaks to a lot of people in a lot of different ways, and it’s neat to hear something like that from someone so far away.

We cherish the friendships and genuine loving concern from so many. We’ve even heard from folks we’ve never met from all across the US and outside the country. Garrett and Jessi even got a gift this week from some troops in Iraq. So our prayers tonight in part, are for the men and women so far away from home who lay it all on the line each day, protecting the freedoms we often take for granted.

Everyone is better today after hearing the news of hopefully coming home before summer’s out. There is more good news to come. I believe it with every breath. It don’t mean we won’t have an off day here and there, but the littlest Cowboy has a warrior’s heart and many gifts to brag about for years to come.

God Bless you all,


April 1, 2008

April 1, 2008

Well, I guess I knew it was coming and I guess April fools day is as good as any for it to arrive. The strain of being away from home and the depth of whole situation finally hit with a vengeance tonight, striking Kathy and the kids pretty hard. We see other families here going home every day. Most are only here for a few days, and unfortunately we feel a little envious of them. But the last grain that tore the sack was a call from the transplant team that Garrett has to have another biopsy surgery soon. They told us this is necessary, because it’s the only way to know for sure that everything is on track. This is, after all, how they found out he was so sick just a month ago. But for me, the thought of having to lay him down on a table again is weighing pretty heavy, and he’s naturally very scared. This will be surgical procedure #20 since he was born.

Kathy and Jessi headed home this evening to pick up a few things and get a night away. She’s been extremely strong but after seeing kids playing ball on nearby diamonds, walking in to a quiet home, having the dogs run up asking where the heck we've been, seeing toys and family photos and beds not slept in, it struck a chord. Any mother can tell you that the connection with their babies is unlike any other relationship known to man. Having to watch her children suffer gets to be quite a load at times.

Jessi, too, overheard the phone call. She went off into a corner and tried to hide under her arms. I just can’t imagine what is going through her little mind. She is so very precious and perceptive well beyond her years. All she really knows is that a month ago she was ripped from her home and all of her critter comforts and forced to wear her brother’s skivvies until we could get to the store and find some more suitable for a little girl.

The fear the pending surgery knocked Garrett down a notch this evening. He started crying and said he wanted to go home. He curled up on my lap, buried his head in my shoulder and said “daddy, why can’t we just go home? I don’t want any more needles. I don’t want to go in the hospital again. I just wanna go home and be normal again. God, how I want that for him. By eleven tonight he was really restless and upset again thinking about the biopsy. Sleep wasn't an option at that time, so I just put him in a warm tub. It always relaxes him. He wanted to play with his baseball guys while he soaked, but had a heck of a time finding 9 toys who had all their arms and legs. He settled for three baseball players, two cowboys and one Luke Skywalker. It must’ve been one heck of a game.

I know I have asked for so much from you all, and your prayers…all of our prayers together, are singing praises to His merciful love. Please ask God to give Kathy and the kids strength, hope and faith in knowing He is carrying us all. There are many folks in this ol' world who need your prayers, and we are honored to be among them. We know their not wasted petitions. They work, and we want you to know we won’t let you down.

In my career, I’ve been fixing other peoples problems in 30 minutes or less for over twenty years. But I know when I’m out matched. When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? (Psalms 56:3-4)

This mission isn't over yet. We’ve breached the door and made it into the main hallway, but still have a whole building to clear and bandits to defeat before we rest. But tomorrow is a new day, and we’ll put on our armor of God and fight the good fight.

Be blessed as I am blessed. I am praying for all of you. Good night.


March 31, 2008

March 31, 2008

Today we woke to a nice covering of snow on the ground. Or I guess I should say that the rest of them woke to snow on the ground. I was up since 2am because I slept with little Sir Kicksalot, and he was having dreams again. I felt like a heavy bag in a dojo.

Garrett had a pretty good check up today. He’s lost another pound, but his blood work looks much better. His blood pressure was perfect and his cyclosporine (anti-rejection) levels are right where they should be! The doctors said he’s probably been playing too hard, and it has caused some inflammation at the incision site. He has a bump on the left side of his breast plate, but they said it should go away with time. Now that we seem to have his blood levels about right, he should start showing gains in other areas too.

He’s been a real trooper most of the time, but gets a little down once in a while, missing home, not being able to play like he wants to and being cooped up. It’s hard to explain to his 8 year old mind that in six months this will all be a memory and he’ll be well on his way to living “normally” again. What amazes me is how he and his little sister are getting along so great. It makes this whole ordeal much easier to handle.

Today their “spring break” officially ended and school began. We’ve never home schooled before, and it’s a learning experience for all of us. The carrot on the end of the stick today was getting to watch the Rockies’ opener if they got their work done. Then the darned game got rained out! Oh, well. That’s baseball.

For the hunters in the group, you might want to pick up a copy of the Jan-Feb 2008 Eastman’s Bow hunting Journal. There is an article about Hal Jansen and a moose he took in Wyoming last year. Hal is Garrett’s donor’s step dad. Garrett has dog eared all the pages and wants to go moose hunting now.

Anyway, we continue to be blessed as each brings triumph and more hope, and we’re grateful for all of your prayers. As it says in Thessalonians, “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers”.

God Bless,


March 29, 2008

March 29, 2008

Garrett’s had a couple of really good days, praise God! His energy level is up and his appetite is back again. Hopefully Monday will bring great news of positive changes in his blood work. We also moved again a couple of days ago, this time to a 3rd floor corner room. We now have two windows at the southwest corner of the building. More sunlight means better attitudes for all, and an extra biscuit on the plate is the windowed sitting area just outside the room. This makes a great place for the kids to study, read or just hang out. I promise you though, this is the last move we make for a while. This is the 8th place I’ve laid my head in the past month. I'm starting to feel like we’re in a witness protection program. Visits from exceptional friends and family have brought a few much needed interruptions and the kids got some cool gifts. Because spring break in the area and the temporary released thousands of local curtain climbers, we limited any “field trips” this week and there are only so many new discoveries to be found in the Ronald McDonald house. So these visits were times perfectly.

As an aside, I sometimes find myself with some reservations when I begin to type another update about Garrett and our lives right now. So many of you have been incredibly kind, generous and spiritually uplifting for us. The genuine concern and interest in how the journey continues is almost surreal, and we want to share the story and the miracles surrounding this fantastic experience. But if I seem as guarded at times, I am just trying to find a balance with what everyone should know while still protecting the privacy of my family.

What we have, with our challenges, is special. It is what it is, and there is nothing you or we can do to change that, except to pray that God will continue to shine on this special boy and use him and us to promote His perfect plan. We want the kids to know that all of these gifts… the sacrifice, the joys, the fears and exhilaration, are all part of seeking a closer and more personal relationship with Christ. We have been given much, and we want to honor Him by the way we handle each day, though I at least, fall short. Thanks for your understanding, and all that you do to help us each step of the way.

God Bless each of you.


March 28, 2008

March 28, 2008

Blessings, all! Garrett had a good day today, but the nightmares continue. Just as I started to write this, he had another. At the hospital today, his xplant nurse said Garrett’s nightmare issues were discussed in staff. There are no medications that should be doing this right now. The assessment is that his 8 year old mind has simply had a dump truck load of stuff thrown at him in a very short time, and it is will take time to shake. With time, love, patience and prayer, these will subside. He really doesn't like to go to bed right now because he doesn't want the bad dreams. When that happens, we hand it over to Jesus and I try to get his mind on something fun. So we have a drill we do where I will run baseball defensive scenarios past him. ie: runner on 2nd, one out, ball hit hard on the ground to deep 3rd side of shortstop. What do you do? He’s pretty good and quickly making a decision and executing his plan. Is there anything a good baseball game can’t fix???

It’s neat to watch how Garrett’s mind works to free him from his worries when he has bad dreams. In his childlike way, he wants to say a short prayer, then talk about baseball and soon enough he is able to go back to sleep. As adults, we seem to want to figure out what the dreams are and try to fix the problem ourselves. Saint Thomas once wrote “Only an adult who has lost the clear vision of childhood begins to think of his acts, and of himself, as self-sufficient…” I too become so infatuated with my own self-reliance, that I often see less of anything, especially God who can make all things right. I can’t fix it! I can only be a tool for the Master’s craftsmanship. If I would do more like Garrett and simply turn it over to Him, let it go, and then go have fun, the bad stuff would go away sooner.

His clinic check up today was pretty good. He gained a pound back, but his blood pressure is up and his anti-rejection levels in his blood, are down. They don’t seem overly concerned, but warned to watch how he feels and keep him as healthy as possible. To that end, we stay pretty isolated from folks most of the time and are limiting the number and length of visits for right now. We had someone come up the other day for a short visit and they woke up sick the next morning. There’s no way they could have seen it coming, but that is why we are so very cautious right now. By the Grace of God, Garrett didn't get the bug. So if you do come up, please be sure you haven’t been around anyone who is sick, even if you feel well. We just can’t take extra chances right now.
Our Little Cowboy is still spurring tough, though. Yesterday he said he wants to ride his horse and told me also, “Daddy, I just want to swing a bat again”. He will…….hopefully sooner than we all might think. He said his prayers tonight again remembering those most important to him. Among them were Darren, Megan, his Grampy that he never met, the little boy who is so very sick, a little girl who was just diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma on her spinal cord, and for his animals he misses so much. What a reunion it will be when the critters see him coming sometime this summer!

And of course, we always pray for you all, Ever thankful for the constant support and friendship. As the knees on your britches wear thin, his heart gets better each day. Believe it.......I do. We saw a family today who just lost their child. You don't have to look far to see someone with real problems and broken hearts. I'd ask for you to remember them in your intentions. I don't know them, but their world shattered today.

God Bless you,


March 27, 2008

March 27,

Subject: A Nice Jog Relieves Stress

As you know, Garrett is doing well and we're hoping it will continue. His nightmares and evening discomfort still makes it tough for him to sleep, and he's really missing home right now. I finally had to admit that the stress was beginning to built in me, so I started working out again.

I thought I'd take you all along with me on a nice leisurely jog I took. I went for a well needed run through some kind of urban amateur arts n graphics gathering spot just down from where we are living. There was a nice cornucopia of mixed gang graffiti in that stretch, along with all the typical twisted urban youth droppings……y’know, cig butts, hypodermic needles, discarded do rags, peelings from some past romantic fruits of love interludes, empty bottles of a foty, clothing, more bottles, backpacks that had been ransacked and discarded, human waste collection sites, and of course the always present evidence of higher learning and health food addictions………..nudie magazines and junk food wrappers.

Much of the tagging itself told quite a story. In one such case, it seems that Flaco and Puro are having a dispute, and quite proud of their respective neighborhoods being West Side and East Side, respectively. Though both quite humbly (yah, right) spew their own loyalties to Sur XIII. It also seems evident that someone who frequented this nature walk has very little love for the Inca Boyz.

I then jogged on past the creek flowing with grayish goo as discarded soft drink cups bobbed effortlessly along. A quarter mile away, past a few stripped bikes, the obligatory tire or two, a crusted blob of what once was a sleeping bag and a mine field of broken bottles, I headed north behind some businesses. Ahhh….here’s what I was looking for.

A nice jog through some regurgitated dumpster seepage, back around behind the hut that appears to be a reluctant graveyard of tagged, damaged and dumped news paper machines, past a "do not enter" sign marked proudly on the back by some nice young child whose initials must be L K ,and then on through the upper parking lot of a medical center that seemed all too common, short one low rider pickup with it's windshield smashed and tires slashed.

After about a mile or so of this exquisite safari, and having yet to come face to face with even a small herd of the local wildlife known scientifically as thugalorus gangstastupidus, I decided to re-route my final leg as I realized suddenly and embarrassingly, that I had failed to purchase a single “Urban Terrorist Hunting License”, and thus did not want to get caught poaching.

We live in such a fun neighborhood.

Hope you're all well.


March 24, 2008

March 24, 2008

Garrett had a good weekend, with all of us rejoicing in an extra exciting Easter. We had some very special friends drop in for a visit, got to go to church right here in the room, and the Easter Bunny still found us all the way up here. Jessi was especially excited to find some cotton from his tail that had apparently shed off during his nocturnal visit. Pretty cool! They even had an Easter egg hunt during a rare venture away from the Ronald McDonald house. Their laughter will never win a Grammy, but I’ve never heard a more beautiful sound.

Monday’s return to reality came in the form of another clinic visit/check up. Garrett has lost a little more weight, but is still only a few pounds lighter than before his transplant. The transplant team is not overly concerned as long as he does not continue to lose weight. Everything else looks really good though, and we stay cautiously optimistic. His energy level remains excellent, and sometimes he even gets a little impatient that he can’t run and play hard yet. All good signs that he’s not spending much time looking back.

Tonight at bedtime though, Garrett was asking me about heaven. He asked so many questions I just don’t have the answers to. I searched my heart to find comforting words for him. Little boys and girls just shouldn’t have to think about death and what comes after. He gets a little scared sometimes and I see some of the same fears in his momma and sister, even as I try to hide my own. Daddy is supposed to be the tough one, and I wish I could take all of their uncertainties about the future and sweep them into my shirt pocket to carry for them. He is such a tough little cowboy.

I’m so grateful to all of you who continue to pray for and send notes to him. The other day, one of Garrett’s little friends from home brought him a box full of money he’d collected at his dad’s restaurant. This little guy sat all evening by this box and asked customers to help Garrett. Garrett was so excited to see his buddy, and the boys really had a time playing video games together. Things like that, and the little girl who gave her only penny to Garrett….. The little ones continue to lead the way for us.

Keep the prayers coming when you can. We can feel them and they are working.

Blessings to you all,


March 22, 2008

March 22, 2008

The past few days have been eventful. Garrett has been feeling better, and pushed himself a little too hard. He was playing outside when he tripped and fell on his chest. This caused us a great deal of concern, and scared Garrett quite a bit. He cried for quite a while because it hurt so bad. They had split him stem to stern and it’s far from healed. He was lucky though, because he was carrying his large stuffed tiger he calls “Darren”, and instead of hitting the concrete, he landed on Darren. That sure dampened the impact and nothing was moved or displaced. Thank God!

We had quite a few visitors on Saturday, and while it was great to see everyone, it plum wore him out. Darren’s mother got to listen to Garrett’s heart today. It brought tears of joy mixed with sorrow, but it was a beautiful moment. He has kind of a big day scheduled tomorrow too, being Easter, with visits, Mass (in the room) and an egg hunt later. It’s so much fun to see him laughing and playing. He won’t act like a kid who just got a heart transplant. We have to rein him in and help him keep a balance so he won’t get into problems and end up back in the hospital. That’s a good problem to have.

We’ve made it three weeks now, and on the anniversary of the reason we believe. While it seems I’ve ridden this trail in another time, there are stark differences becoming apparent to me. I don’t know if it is maturity or lack there of, but something in my character has been deeply marked this time through.

I, like a lot of men, have spent many years trying to find what great thing I was supposed to do. Like Garrett, I lived for baseball in my early years. Since then I rode many horses and had nearly as many shed me like rain. I have been in many engagements throughout my career, caught many bandits and helped catch many more. From my current vantage point, it appears likely that I will never reach the pinnacle of professional rodeo, catch a major league game, lead a daring raid such as the Texas 7 or catch a nationally known serial killer. I’m not smart enough to secure the nation’s peace or be eloquent enough to calm civil disobedience to the point where they are buying each other beers after the rally. While there are always possibilities that exist, I know as I reach the waning years of my career, those opportunities become more and more a tale to be told later in life by a younger, more invigorated warrior.

What I have come to realize is that I have tried to learn from the best, to show the way with principle centered leadership, to nod my head for 1st each time, and to treat my horses with the caring and respect a good animal deserves. I’ve learned to treat each man with the dignity he deserves, and to act tactically and decisively upon those who must be removed. I have learned to lead from the front, guide with an iron fist and velvet glove, to see each person in my charge as an individual with families, dreams, fears and goals of their own. Most importantly, I have stood tall and straight in a sea of blue while a flag draped coffin rolled by….and from the lessons of those fallen heroes, I have learned to truly respect and love the people and very God given right that I stand to defend, and I proudly represent the very system that stands to take that same freedom away from those who endanger it for others. But any man who shows a divine spark in his eyes, be him civilian, bandit or warrior, deserves reasonable opportunities to show his Maker that he can live for others and not himself.

What is quite clear to me, is that there are none in our midst who more openly present this fine quality more freely than a child. Unabashed, clean and pure. The essence of innocence and the model of unconditionally loyalty and love. Now as the world shares in awe, the majesty of new birth and freedom found only through the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I am reminded of St. Mark’s words in Chapter 10. Here he quoted our Lord, who said “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

In this current journey of ours, a child made an unselfish decision two years ago. Three weeks ago, he honored his promise as another child, Garrett, received the gift of new life.

I will continue to pursue bad bandits, good horses and pick-up ball games, but my priorities are now clear. I will do what I can to ensure these little ones have a world to grow up in that is not dirtied by what we have done. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”

Whatever future role I will play as a leader in my field for the next untold years, none will carry a greater responsibility than the one I will play as “daddy”, and I promise you all here that I will not cease to follow them in my heart, as I lead them from in front. I am hoping that being good at one will help me become better at the other. Victory in either case is the only option.

Wishing you all a very happy and most blessed Easter!


March 20, 2008

March 20, 2008

Today’s visit to the transplant clinic went well. Garrett lost a little weight, but we attribute that to the activities the past few days getting moved. Some of his medications were adjusted a little after his blood tests showed a slight dip, but all in all he is doing really well. His echo continues to show a very strong heart. As a surprise for being such a big boy today, Garrett got a large stuffed tiger. He named it ‘Darren’. He also carries a small toy bear and toy bear claw with him to the hospital. He says it’s his way of carrying “the strength of the bear” with him when he has to be there. Always the little warrior!

Many of you have asked for the address where we are staying. It is as follows:

Garrett Ross
c/o Ronald McDonald House
Room 3Q
932 Potomac Circle
Aurora, Colorado 80011

Tonight’s bedtime prayers centered around the Gospel readings of the Passion of our Lord and what He had to endure for us so long ago. In a world with so much darkness and pain, we focus on His light to guide us. The kids prayed for Darren and Megan, our friends in need and of course, and all the animals and friends they miss so much. We are a little homesick, but that’s expected. The kids have started daily journal notes to help them capture their own record of events during this journey.

If Garrett is feeling up to it this next week, we plan to have another great excursion to look for geese and the tracks of the elusive Rocky Mountain Snupalufagus near the lake, where I understand a small herd has been seen lately. J

Wishing you all the blessings you so richly deserve,


March 19, 2008

March 19, 2008

As I started thinking about what I could write for an update this evening, I got a phone call from one of my best friends. His call put everything in perspective tonight. So before we get to ‘how the Rosses are doin’, I’d like to ask each of you in your own way to offer prayers for this man, his team and his family. He is a Homicide Sergeant at a large police agency here in Colorado. He lost his brother in the line of duty two years ago. A second officer from that agency was also shot and killed later that same year. I knew them both, and they were both fine young men, dying on streets they swore to protect. Tonight, my friend called me from a violent scene, asking for prayers. His own sister’s best friend and maid of honor was murdered today. His job is to seek the truth in the jumble of broken bodies.

Folks, this family has been through the ringer. Through all the heart ache that will never fully go away, they were one of the first to step up and offer to help me and my family with our challenges and have been there for us every single day. He was also there for me 8 years ago when Garrett had his first transplant. Please find it in your heart to ask our loving God to hold them now.

This most recent act of cowardice will once again shake this loving and considerate family and the police department to it’s core, as the victim is the sister of another officer. They need to feel Christ loving them and guiding them. Pray also for the officers who must investigate this scene and try to find answers. Psalm 5:12 For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield. I ask, oh Lord God, to send Saint Michael to their sides, to shield them with the armor of Your righteousness and strength so they might seek clearly the path to truth and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. I would also ask you to pray for the family and soul of a dear lady who worked with me in Narcotics when Garrett received his 1st heart. She lost a tough battle with cancer this week. She was very concerned and kind to me during those difficult times.

As for the Rosses, we have now spent 24 hours in our new digs. The brand new Ronald McDonald house in Aurora is where we will hang our hats for a while. The place is not home, but is a very nice, clean and quiet atmosphere. The building is about 5 minutes from The Children’s Hospital and offers free shuttle service for appointments. It is huge, about 40,000 square feet with private rooms for about 40 families. So far only about 10 families have moved in, which leaves a lot of space for those of us here.

There are several kitchens, laundry facilities and multiple nooks and crannies where you can read a book, pray or just relax. It is a staffed facility with tremendous employees and volunteers who really understand the stresses of families uprooted from home to be with a sick child. Kathy and the kids love it. There is a large play room and a “Bronco Room” where a professional athlete is scheduled to come in once in a while and read to the kids well enough to attend. Jessi and Garrett have already become quite tickled with one of the main coordinators. She seems equally enamored by them, and goes out of her way to make sure the kids are having a good time. The other families have similar situations so no one with even a cold or cough is allowed to be here. That gives us great comfort in the face of Garrett’s severely compromised immune system.

In all, we are finding victory in each passing day. It’s hard to feel bad about our situation in light of the tragedies such as what was just described. If I could, I’d be there for them right now. I am, …in prayer. I have my family, resting safe in a clean and secure facility and close to the hospital. Things just aren’t so bad.

Tomorrow is another hospital visit to check on Garrett’s healing heart. I expect to hear that he is continuing to mend well. Other than the night time issues of comfort and nightmares, Garrett seems to be doing great.

I hope this finds you all as secure in your own lives and counting His endless blessings and praising His name. John Quincy Adams once said "Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." These are words we try to live by right now.

God Bless you all and thank you for all you do, for us, and for them.

In Him,


March 17, 2008

March 17, 2008

Hope. Tonight, I just hope Garrett sleeps better. I just got back from a run to the store to get some cough medicine. He’s been having a slight cough, probably from the dry air in the room plus reaction to one of the other medicines he has to take, but it makes resting difficult. Generally, I think of hope a different way.

Trust, anticipation, faith, dream, chance….choose any of those and they all are fitting descriptions of how we feel when Kathy and I talk about hope. We have so much hope for the future. For Garrett, for Jessi and for all of our family. We trust in God’s goodness with great anticipation of more good things to come. We try to use ‘faith’ as a challenging, yet remarkable journey and not simply a link word in conversation. We dream about Garrett and Jessi continuing to thrive as he heals and they serve a higher purpose for many years to come. We’re grateful for the many extra chances we’ve gotten over the years, through Garrett’s 1st heart transplant and 19 surgeries, and Jessi’s pre-mature birth. How many parents get that many chances? We are so blessed.

Today Garrett had another tune-up at the hospital. They said he is still on-track and they feel good about his progress. We also got notified that the Ronald McDonald House has room for us and we anticipate being able to move in on Tuesday. It should be a really good set up for us. The staff has also talked to me about possibly giving safety seminars to other families at the home.

Things are still going well and though we know we have many trails yet to travel, we remain confident. We’re taking what precautions we must and making decisions that we believe will give Garrett the best chance at a full recovery, and get us all home as soon as possible.

FYI - The Cody Wyoming paper, the town where Darren (Garrett’s donor) came from, ran an article today about Garrett and Darren. You can view the article by entering the following link on the Internet. This is an astonishing tale and we’re reluctantly honored to play a part.

May God continue to keep you all safe.

JD and family.

March 15, 2008

March 15, 2008

Hey everyone. Thought we’d drop a quick note of update on “Dinger”. Last couple of days have been good, although I’d be lying if I said we love hibernating in a small hotel room. We do go out for walks and Garrett is getting stronger all the time. He had a really neat experience the other day, when he got to meet Dave Veres, a pitcher with the Rockies. Dave was very down to earth and helped Garrett appreciate his situation because Dave is on injured reserve right now.

The days all seem to run together. Kathy and I were discussing this morning how we were surprised that “so and so” hasn’t contacted us. Later, as I was going through old emails to help document the timeline of all of this, I found an email from that person the day after Garrett received his new heart. More surprising was the fact that I had written a fairly lengthy response. What little goo I have working between my ears seems to have gelled too much.

Garrett had kind of a tough night Friday. It might be because he had a full day, but he was pretty uncomfortable again, and had nightmares throughout the night. We don’t know exactly what he is dreaming about, and he doesn’t remember. All I know is that the dreams are disturbing and he wakes up whimpering. I don’t think he really fell asleep until after 0430.

Today he is feeling pretty good. We woke to a gentle fog, an inch of snow and absolute quiet. It was beautiful. We’re kicking out the girls to go be girls for a day. Jessi wants to go to the Colorado Horse Expo for a few hours and Garrett and I are going to hang, go for a walk and just enjoy man stuff.

I recently heard that the most precious word in our vocabulary is “truth”. Not “love”, as some might expect. I tend to agree, because true love cannot exist without “truth”. Jesus told us “I am the way, the truth and the life”. Everything that happens to us is ‘truth’. How we tend to recall that, may challenge the value of the information. Leave it to adults to screw up such a great word with our own interpretation of what is fact. But when you look into the eyes of a scared child, you see genuine ‘truth’. When the heart of that child loves, you feel the pure ‘truth’. When you realize it all comes from Him, it sure makes you willing to fight any fight to protect it.

Stay safe and stay in touch.

God Bless you all……..


March 13, 2008

March 13

Yesterday included a magical moment. The father of Darren, the wonderful boy who gave his heart to Garrett, was in town briefly and called. Garrett has been asking so much about Darren, he wanted the chance to meet Darren's dad. We got that opportunity during a brief encounter, and Darren's dad was able to feel Garrett's heart beating strong and proud. It was very emotional and beautiful. Darren's family are quite special. We were able to see many photos of Darren, and Garrett came away with a new love, understanding and respect for his unselfish heart brother. His prayers last night were again for Darren and Megan.

Today's clinic report was great! Garrett's levels are right where they should be, and physically the physicians say that he is ahead of schedule. He continues to amaze the hospital staff at his resiliency and fight. In Garrett's class at school, each child has written "their" saying. Garrett listed two..."Cowboy Up" and "Bring It On".

Following about 3 hours of tests, echo's, EKGs, pokes, prods and blood tests, Garrett got to see his old heart. This was something I wanted to see just to help me understand further what went wrong. Garrett wanted to see it, too. Mommy declined.

The pathology reports and slides took my breath. I did not really completely understand just how bad it was until we saw everything. If you take a drinking straw and squish it between your fingers and try to take a sip, you'll have an idea of how little blood Garrett was getting. The walls of the "good" artery were so thick, they almost touches sides. Garrett got to hold his heart (not something you get to do every day) and he even let his sister hold it. The pathology doctor was also great at explaining to them how the physical heart works and what no longer worked in Garrett's case, causing the need for his brand new heart, which by the way, looks fantastic on the Echo monitor. What power!

I think seeing it helped them both understand why he got sick, that he is better now, and that the physical heart is just tissue that can be replaced. The heart we love with is permanent. This is where we feel the love of the person who gave us the heart, and are able to love others in return.

In yet another example of how great God's works prove to be, the doctors explained to us today that during Garrett's 1st transplant, they had to cut all the nerves around his heart. They shouldn't have regenerated and he shouldn't have felt any pain. The difference is that they did regenerate and they did send him a signal that he was hurt. That is why we kept trying to find out what was wrong. That is also why no one expected a heart problem, because his heart shouldn't have hurt. But it did! If not for those nerves regenerating and him feeling the pain, he likely would have just dropped at some point soon, and we would have never known there was a problem.

Tell me what is impossible with God?!?

If anyone out there questions the goodness of our Lord, or the presence of our Creator, feel free to give me a call. We need to talk.


March 11.1, 2008

March 11.1

Garrett has had a really great day physically. He had some discomfort through the night but nothing a little Children's Tylenol couldn't handle. Today we took our first big adventure as a family. We can't be near other folks, so a bag of burgers and a trip to a local lake made for a perfect picnic opportunity. The weather was fantastic and Garrett took about a 20 minute walk near the shore.

He and Jessi made archaeological discoveries of a goose feather and a couple of fresh water shells. He pooped out pretty quick, but the fresh air and sunshine did him, and us, a world of good. He and I finally discussed the baseball season today. He took it pretty hard when he found out he can't play this year. As the tears filled his eyes, I was really proud of his competitive spirit. After all he has been through lately, he was genuinely disappointed and surprised that I had the audacity to think he won't be up to swinging the bat and running the bases. I assured him that he is only on injured reserve like a lot of the pros, and that next year will be a new season full of promise. Through a cracking voice, he wanted to know if he'd still get a jersey this year and feel like he was a part of the team. He also asked if we would be home in time for him to help out at practice.

God, I love this boy. I don't know what else to expect from a kids whose already shown he's tougher than boot leather. The discussion about baseball brought the inevitable subject of 'home'. Since we are no longer in crisis mode where waiting to see what each hour might bring fills our every thought, discussions of home and "normalness" are becoming more routine. Both kids miss their animals a great deal. Jessi and Garrett both have cried over wanting to be with their dogs, cats and horses. It brought Garrett a great deal of comfort to know that his buddy Daniel is taking great care of his horse and that his uncle and Aunt are making sure the cats and dogs have plenty of people time in our absence. It doesn't create a fix, but it beats thinking their critters have to hunt down a jack rabbit every other day just to survive.

Back to the hotel room later and after a good rest, Garrett wanted to take another walk. We strolled along a service road near the hotel and adjacent to the large grass pasture when we crossed a manhole cover. Garrett had never seen one before, and it never dawned on me. Because we live in the country, the kids are not used to seeing these kinds of things.

Out of every challenge comes all sorts of learning opportunities. I'm not sure a sewer pipe will lend to any great discoveries, but it was a learning opportunity just the same. I guess the moral might be that as long as we're walking over it and not falling in it, life 'aint so bad.

As I jot these notes every day or so, it makes me wonder if I write too much. While it serves as a great way to communicate with so many of you who hold Garrett up in prayer and want to know his progress, it also acts as a diary of sorts for me. I hope you all don't mind, but I am basically a lazy person and don't want to do more than I have to in order to capture the days as they drift by. There may come a time when Garrett and Jessi will want to read these and reflect. If it gets to be too much, there is a pretty neat "spam" button on most e-mail accounts. I won't be offended.

Tomorrow promises to have more adventure in store, and we also have another meeting with the father of the donor child. He is back in town briefly, and has asked to meet Garrett. If Garrett is up to it we'll let it happen as he has been asking a lot about Darren. Please keep that meeting in your thoughts and prayers. It will be brief, but Garrett really wants to do it.

I hope your tomorrow finds you all safe. We're starting to get homesick on the front end of what will likely be a long field trip away, but I guess that will make the homecoming that much sweeter. We are already so blessed, it makes me feel selfish to even "want" anything more that what He has already given.

"The Lord will provide...and He does"

In Him,


March 11, 2008

March 11

Good morning, everyone. Yesterday was pretty full, as we started at the hospital at 0730 and didn't leave until almost noon. They ran a bunch of tests and pulled some stitches from his tube holes - that was not fun for Garrett at all. The stitches were embedded, but he proved again why he's tougher than 10 kinds of horseshoe nails, and fought through the pain while they used a needle to dig one out.

It was plain to see in their faces during the series of tests they ran, that they were concerned about something. They found fluid around Garrett's heart and heard a murmur. He also had a cut on his tummy where one of the tubes ran, that was not healing as well as they hoped. With his immune system down so low, we all thought "infection", which could be really bad right now. Kathy and I were afraid they were going to re-admit him and put him on IV medication to fight the infection, but instead they told us to leave and they would call. Garrett had no fever and that was good.

They called last night and said all but one test was back, and everything looked good. We should hear on the other today. In fact, they gave us the day off so we didn't have to go back in until 1st thing this morning. The doctors said that the fluid and murmur are not overly concerning if all the blood work comes back OK.

Today we are celebrating our new found "freedom" and are going to visit the Ronald McDonald house then take the kids to Chatfield Reservoir for a picnic outside. Garrett was in quite a little discomfort last night, but feels pretty good today, so we're gonna get him out in the sunshine!

Each day is a victory, and Jesus continues to give us the weapons for battle.

God Bless ya,


March 10, 2008

March 10

As many of you now know, Garrett was released from the Children's Hospital today! He has been progressing so well, and after some minor communication issues with night nurses on the step-down floor, the transplant team decided that Garrett would be in a better situation away from the hospital right now.

Today they removed the last IV and told us that they wanted Garrett out of the hospital. The CAMPATH medication they have been giving him that causes his immune system to bottom out, puts him at extremely high risk for infections which would ultimately compromise his new heart. Too many kids have come to the cardiac step down floor with infectious viral infections that they felt it was in Garrett's best interest to move to a more isolated situation since he is no longer in need of 24 hour critical care. We were told to clean our hotel room as best we could and stay there.

We go back to the transplant clinic each day at 0730, then back to the room. I know what some of you are did we. A hotel is not the cleanest place in the world. But Senator Tom Weins set this up for us and we scrubbed every spot with a special germicidal. We purchased a very good air purifier and we brought in healthy foods to snack on. Our window, which opens for fresh air, faces 2500 acres of grassland and coyotes and we use the back stair wells (much like 8 years ago), get exercise and avoid common areas, and back to the room where everyone uses hand sanitizers and masks if they come in. Here Garrett can rest quietly and heal further.

We don't run the air forced heater to prevent bringing in any common air and remind ourselves it's temporary. Soon we hope to be in a much better set up, but we are so happy and blessed to be a family together in the same room for the 1st time in 12 days. It's great! Our challenge will be to keep ourselves from any situation where we can bring any colds or flu, etc. back to our little fighter so that he may never have to do through this ever again.

Tonight at bedtime, I told Garrett to stay in bed and the rest of us would kneel and pray. He had none of that . That little warrior pulled himself up out of bed and with help, kneeled on the floor to pray and give thanks. One week after a heart transplant, he is kneeling on the floor of a hotel room, thanking God for all his health and the victories to come. He dedicated his prayers for the donor boy and his family, with special thoughts of Megan whom he will never let go, for the son of dear friends who is ill, and his horse Big Ticket, who was his best pal and died a year ago. (Gotta love a boy who puts horses right up there with people as most important in his life)

There are many roads yet to travel, and we will likely move a couple more times in the next few months as we progress to a place where we're more comfortable being farther and farther away from the hospital, but still isolated from germs that could cause him serious problems.

We continue to hold you all up in prayer also. In sincere thanks for the love and support that continues to humble us daily. We ask for no sympathy, only that this may light a fire in each of you to reach out and help someone, somewhere, who may not have the love of friends and family we find so bountiful. Most importantly, pray for those lost souls who have not yet found the Friend in Jesus, who is the ultimate physician and chooses the times and places where His mighty work will use us to bring His message of hope to a wounded world.

I am attaching a couple of photos. These are shots of a little boy who we recently found was ranked #2 overall in his little league tryouts just before finding out he was dying. In his tryouts, he beat 120 boys older than him. His 1st response upon hearing this from the league was "who was #1?" He never weakens!!! Always the competator

The photos show him just after transplant, his first walk, and then just 4 days later. WE SERVE AND LOVE AN AWESOME GOD!!!!!!!!

I'm going to join my peaceful family now, who have earned their rest. My prayer for each of you tonight is that you take just a moment out of your busy days to donate a pint of blood, sign up as an organ donor, throw the ball to that kid of yours, to call a family member you haven't talked to in a while, to remind your momma you love her, saddle up and go for a ride to appreciate the splendor of God's beauty, or to hit your knees and ask Jesus to lead you, so that you may lead others.

Stay strong, stay tactical and as a good buddy of Garrett's once told him "keep a rope in your hand and Jesus in your heart".

God Bless you all,


Monday, April 21, 2008

March 7, 2008

March 7

Sometimes it's hard to find the words to express the feelings of emotion and complete sense of our insignificance in His perfect plan. The overwhelming support we recieve from all of you reminds us of how the love of our Heavenly Father can reach so many through the life of a single child. There are times when we need to be reminded of this when there are no earthly answers for why some children must endure so much pain. This hospital is full of these little miracles. There is no doubt that no other life on earth can bring so many people to their knees in search of Him. Through the hard times, I find comfort in knowing that their challenges serve to keep us in touch with the only One who can make it all better.

Today was a very difficult one on Garrett. The medicine they are using to treat him caused adverse problems and he suffered tremendously until they could counteract the reaction. He's going to have these bumps that cause a lot of fear, but the end result will be worth the struggle. It has to be. By about 1030 tonight, Garrett was finally feeling a little better and wanted something to eat. His color was returning to a relatively normal shade, his blood pressure had come down some and he was breathing more normally. And mommy and daddy could start breathing a little easier, too. Jessi took if pretty hard as she cannot stand to see her brother suffer. Fortunately, he only has one more treatment of this up front and his body will have enough of the antibodies he needs to guard against some possible rejection issues. We knew up front that there is a chance of very serious side effects, we only hope today is not a sign of things to come.

On a much brighter note, we were blessed with a couple of promising housing options today that will give us the opportunity to relocate near the hospital. They seem life they will offer a safe and friendly environment that will help Garrett emotionally over the next several months, and give me peace of mind that my family is safe when I have to leave them and handle my responsibilities at work.

Our Pastor and a very close friend also came to visit and their timing was perfect. We needed the calming distraction, and the much needed necessities from home that were delivered. The doctors also said that even with today's set back, Garrett is actually ahead of the game and should be able to leave intensive care soon for a "step down" unit. Each day he takes on the fight, and each night we give thanks for another more day closer to being home.

When watching him sleep last night, I couldn't help but be reminded of a beautiful prayer that Mother Theresa used to say as one of her daily reflections. I look at him and see the face of Jesus.

Dear Jesus, Help me spread Thy Fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy Spirit and Love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every life I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and no longer see me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.

More soon. JD

March 5, 2008

March 5

Today was another big step, or should I say "steps" for our Cowboy. They removed Garrett's chest tubes and most of his IV lines. That was tough on him, but by the end of the day he was feeling a great amount of relief not having garden hoses running through his body.

Garrett walked a total of 5 laps today around the nurses stations. His first steps were extremely painful, but he did not quit. With each step, he seems more determined to get out of here. They also started his new anti-rejection regimen, which unfortunately will run his immune system down severely for several months, but is necessary. He was extremely wiped out tonight and readily fell asleep. As we said our night prayers, he concentrated his prayers for his donor, for Megan (his previous heart) and for his cousin who is fighting cancer and has been a tremendous source of strength to Garrett. He wanted to listen to his new heart before he went to sleep, because he is still a little scared he might be called 'home'. When I put the stethoscope to his ears, he quietly listened for some time, then gave me a little smile. I think it helped him to understand how powerful his new heart really is, and he then went right to sleep.

We remain cautiously optimistic about our future, and our little "Dinger" gets stronger each day. It's hard to believe that we're only a few days out from transplant and he's already walking and trying to play his x-box baseball game on the hospital game box. There are many of you who have tried to call, or have left messages at one time or another. Please do not be offended if we don't get back to you right away. The days are quite full right now with therapy, doctor visits and general tending to Garrett's needs. We really appreciate every thought and prayer, more than can be explained. Our support system is outstanding.

As you think of Garrett tomorrow, please ask our precious Lord to help his little lungs open up more. They are still a source of some issue right now, being about half collapsed. This is why we have to push him so hard to walk and do his breathing therapy frequently.

I'm going to try and relax a little now since he is sleeping, so I'll sign off.

May God continue to keep and bless all of you.


March 4, 2008

March 4, 2008

Thank God for sleep. I think it is the only thing that is helping Garrett escape the pain right now. Kathy and Jessi are finally getting some needed rest in a sleep room one floor down. I am spending the night with Garrett and we'll tag-team in the morning. They have a nice recliner in his room where we can kick back with him and watch him sleep when we are with him.

Garrett is now over 24 hours into his new life, but it has been a tough start. He is in a lot of pain when he is awake, but can't move much because of all the tubes, wires and IVs. I did feed him a little ice chips tonight, which seemed to calm him. In one of his better hours, we talked baseball and he's decided he'd like to have his birthday party at a Rockies game :-). The boy never quits!!

Tomorrow is scheduled to be a pretty hard day according to the doctors. They want to remove some of his chest tubes if the bleeding has subsided. Some of the medicine they gave him the other day to thin his blood for the stent is causing him to bleed a little more than we would like, but they are not alarmed. They said it will subside. Who would have thought at the time he would get a heart so soon? During the day later, they want to try and get him up and have him walk a little. They said the next two days will be very painful for him, but we must do it to gain him strength and prevent pneumonia.

He is being a trooper...he said he just wants to get up and go home. I haven't told him yet that we may not be able to go home for about 6 months. Right now he is just trying to get used to the idea that he had to say goodbye to "Megan", his little heart he has carried for the last 8 years. He became very connected to his previous donor, and is going through a little mourning over losing her this way. We too feel her loss and love her for what she did for him. We have told him that she has completed the job God had for her in his life, and it is now time for another person to help him. He asked where his heart came from, but we will wait a while to talk to him about that. They also are putting him on a new medication that is normally for leukemia patients, that will drop his immune system dramatically. For that reason, we will be pretty much sequestered from the world until they can build it back up, but it is necessary to try and prevent any new rejection on the front end. He is only the 3rd heart recipient to receive this new preventative therapy.

I need to reiterate that if anyone has plans to come and see Garrett, he cannot have visitors for several days, and then it will only be with folks who have not been sick lately or been around anyone who has been sick. We cannot risk any viruses or other transferable illnesses that would cause him problems especially since his immune system will be so out of whack for a while. The doctors have been very vocal about that. Even here, he is kept on a cardiac only floor.

Please continue your prayers for him and the donor family. They are working and the doctors are pleased with his progress so far. I got to listen to his new heart today with a stethoscope and is runs like a new diesel!! It is fantastic!

God Bless you all,


March 3, 2008

March 3, 2008

Praise be to God! Our Garrett has a new, vibrant heart beating on its own inside his beautiful chest.

I went home last night, leaving Kathy and the kids up here, so I could get us some clothes and take care of a few chores. Great friends of ours gave me a ride so I could leave the car with Kathy. After hitting the rack about midnight, Kathy woke me around 2:45 am, saying we had a possible donor. I scrambled around and threw some things in a bag and broke land=speed records getting back. Was fortunate to beat the storm, but the wind was really howling. I got back to Kath and the kids about 0400 and we received a follow up call at 0915 saying it looked like a "go".

Kathy and I spend some time with Garrett to explain that God had special plans for him. That his heart was sick and the surgery they had done the other day was only temporary, and that he would need another stronger heart in order that he may not be sick again and be able to get back home to baseball, horses and all the things he loves to do. The little guy was scared, but accepted God's plan. We spent the next several hours getting prepared, signing forms and meeting with doctors. By 1300, the final piece was in place. The heart looked perfect and Garrett went into the operating room around 1430. He was scared, but very strong and brave.

Handing him over for the 19th time since his birth was no easier than the 1st.Everything went perfectly, and we just got back from seeing him in recovery. He has an assortment of 20 some wires, tubes and IVs in his little body, and that sight was tough to take, even though we had seen it before.Garrett is intubated and will remain so for the next 12 hours at least, heavily sedated.

During our "down time", we met other families in the midst of their own tragedies. One family, as it turns out, was the donor family. We had been sharing the waiting room with them for 4 days! They are a wonderful family who lost their beautiful 15 year old son. In his purely unselfish decision to donate his organs, we were among 7 who received the gift of new life. It was a difficult, yet wonderful experience to pray and cry with them. We ask your prayers for them, for peace and the knowledge that they gave us a gift we cannot ever repay. Only our solemn promise to take good care of Garrett as long as he lives is all we could offer. We also prayed with a family of a small baby in need of a transplant. We hope and pray the will get their wish, if it be in God's perfect design.

I will be signing off for now. I just wanted to send a quick update on our little Cowboy. He gave daddy a thumbs up today, even as scared as he was. He is something quite special. His baby sister Jessi wrote him a note on a grease board that read "Garrett, mommy and daddy love you. I love you and Jesus is with you. Cowboy up, Dinger!" From the mind and heart of a 6 year old. It was a moment I will never forget.

Tonight Garrett is resting under sedation and will start to come out of it sometime late morning. We will spend at least 4 days in intensive care, then be transferred to a step down room for another week or two. Our immediate future looks as though we will be in Denver for about 6 months. We still have to stay very, very cautious about any germs, so we ask anyone who is considering a visit to ensure they are not sick or have been around sick people recently. We have to be strict in order not to cause any rejection issues.

God Bless you all for your kind words, prayers and support. We have set our sights on the goal, and will work diligently to achieve. I know this will be a long road, but we're not afraid of the journey any more. God has given us grace and peace. I will update soon.

Thank you and God Bless you all,


March 1, 2008

March 1st

This is a difficult, very long story to tell in a very short time, so I will be brief. Garrett has been diagnosed with Transplant Coronary Artery Disease and must have another heart again. He became very sick and was admitted to The Childrens Hospital very suddenly on Wednesday.
He has been complaining of chest and arm pains the past few weeks. Many tests were done and nothing showed up until an enzyme blood scan was done by his pediatrician on Wednesday. This caused immediate concern and a biopsy was ordered. It was during that procedure on Thursday that doctors identified the problem, and it was much worse than they expected. Little arteries that feed Garrett's heart were closed or closing, and his heart was dying. Amazing, since he's been so active, but in obvious pain. Enough to make him stop playing and cry. This was unusual. He even tried out for baseball last week and was complaining then, but still had a great tryout! Everyone thought he had growing pains from the bands in his chest pinching him.
A tricky procedure was done yesterday to place a very small stent in one of the arteries. We were told after the fact that all of the physicians were scared, and many thought Garrett might not make it off the table because of the seriousness of his condition.Suffice to say that he is feeling much, much better today and is his happy self. He's a little ornery for a hospital room!! But he keeps telling us how happy he is that he doesn't hurt anymore. The blood flow enabled by the surgery yesterday has had an immediate positive result. The down side is that this issue cannot be fixed. Garrett must have a new heart. He was listed "1A" yesterday, which means he is in critical need of a heart and is at the top of the list.Please pray for him, his mommy and sister, and the donor family who have yet to be identified.
Here we go again, but our prayers and gratefulness for all your love and prayers never ends. We will be relocating again to the Denver area for the near future. Garrett does not know yet.
Don't feel sorry, God has control. We just need prayers. We haven't found a fight yet we couldn't win, and we're not about to start. Garrett has NO quit in him. We've seen that too much over the years.
God Bless you all,

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Welcome To Garrett's Story

It has been requested of me several times to start a blog about Garrett and his journey. After some recent prompting by my sister-in-law, I have decided to give it a whirl. The purpose in doing this is to share his story and allow updates to be more readily accessed by those who wish to follow our progress.

I hope you will find the following pages and contents to be warm, informative and helpful. They are but a snapshot of the life of one little boy, who by his champion warrior spirit, has forever changed many lives and brought glory to God.
God Bless you all,